Looking at labs: Automatic for the people

Modern lab production technology has undergone a revolution in recent years. Chris Bennett travelled to Wrexham to see how Hoya is hoping to gain an edge on its competitors

Prescription lab tours used to have the air of a physics lesson with an emphasis on electronics, interference patterns, high vacuum technology and sputtering plumes.

Labs have never been more high-tech, but at Hoya’s Wrexham lab, reduced lead times, communication and excellent service are equally likely to be cited as reasons for new equipment investment as edge thickness, improved transmissibility or drilling technology.

Investment in Wrexham is all about supporting independent customers, says managing director, Martin Batho. He nonchalantly describes the lab as much like any modern lab you would find among the leading lenses companies before explaining the investment that has been ploughed into automation.

The 7,700sqm lab uses equipment from MEI Systems and Satisloh for generating and polishing while a plethora of the latest technology from Optotech, Schneider, Optimal, Nidek and A&R is other processes to ensure customers have the best in quality and service.

‘We continue to work on automating the surfacing process and expand on the remote edging,’ he says. ‘It’s all freeform cut to polish and all automated from blocking through to inspection. The focus is on further reducing lead times so automation tends to be the way. The point of having a local lab is to provide the best service. Several our competitors are now offshore, or a large percentage of what they produce is offshore. From an independent’s perspective we try to make as much as possible as we can here.’

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